Mastermind groups have been around for close to 100 years but lately they’re popping up everywhere, especially women-only groups. Have you set a goal to bring your business to the next level, but you need some inspiration and support on the way? A Mastermind group could be just the ticket. These are mentoring groups that have several key features:

  • Small, carefully chosen groups of motivated, successful members
  • Members brainstorm ideas and hold each other accountable
  • Diverse skills, experiences and interests among members
  • Commitment to structured meetings—either in-person or online

GGF visited one successful Mastermind group at Verity Club, an elite women’s club in Toronto that’s been hosting Mastermind groups since 2005. According to Mary Aitken, founder and CEO of Verity, there are currently 14 Mastermind groups meeting regularly at Verity, representing 112 women.

Aitken envisioned Verity as a home away from home. The club opened in 2004 and has 800 members today. Located in a former chocolate factory in downtown Toronto, it has a top-rated George restaurant, a boutique hotel called Ivy, and Sweetgrass Spa, each of which are open to the public. Club members also have access to quiet workspaces, meeting rooms, dining areas, fitness classes, a hairdresser, makeup artist, flower shop, pool, hot tub and steam room.

Talking club rules with Mary Aitken

GGF: What’s the key benefit for women who join a Mastermind group? 

MA:  Accountability. It’s all well and good to state your hopes and dreams and goals but it’s another thing to stick to them and achieve them. Members are held accountable to the group but the group is supportive rather than judgmental. This enables members to test challenges that they face and come up with alternatives in a non-competing atmosphere. They attribute their success in reaching their goals to participation in their Mastermind group. Our Mastermind groups meet regularly, and are run according to strict guidelines by a facilitator.  Another key benefit is the informal learning that happens within the club from others with diverse experience. It’s easy to meet up over a coffee to talk in between meetings.

GGF: Do Mastermind members have to be in the same business? 

MA: No. We put together groups of 8 diverse, successful women—not friends, family or working colleagues. They benefit from hearing different, informed points of view. Our Mastermind groups are carefully curated to create chemistry and bring together a wide range of transportable skills. The groups can stay together for a year or two—or some continue for much longer and develop strong relationships.  One of the key features is confidentiality—each member signs a confidentiality agreement at the outset.

GGF: Why do Mastermind groups work so well at your club?

MA: Verity is the only club of its kind in the world – a bricks-and-mortar social enterprise designed exclusively for women. It allows women to recharge outside the silos of work and home. In other words, we are community of women helping each other. Mastermind is a natural fit for Verity, and a critical part of our club. Men have had networking opportunities and men’s clubs for a long time—and it’s important for women to have these opportunities. It’s our turn. It’s our time. We will all benefit from the success of this club.

Rise together

Although not all of us can have access to Verity, we can learn from its successes. The Mastermind idea of bringing together a diverse, committed group of women holding each other accountable for reaching their goals could be implemented anywhere. The key is the commitment to work together to reach goals. A quick online search will lead you to many established Mastermind groups in your region. Alternatively, you may want to set up one of your own.

Whether we’re part of a formal Mastermind program or informally mentoring each other, Aitken is right: “It’s our turn. It’s our time.”